The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Coca-Cola Group on March 30 , 2013 begun discussions on partnership to harness some cassava potential.
Kelvin Balogun, the President, Coca-Cola (Central, East and West Africa), told the Minister, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, during a courtesy visit to his office that the group was motivated by his policies since he assumed office.
Balogun said that the group was interested in two of the policies - the local development of high citrus starch syrup and production of fruit juice concentrate from cassava.
According to him, these products are currently being imported from Thailand.
Balogun stressed that the group was committed to the sourcing of local raw materials in this line of business.
“These products are being imported from Thailand and on continual basis, we have to look for large concentrate of raw materials for these products,” he said. “We are extremely committed to this course and our ultimate goal is to produce locally made juice and give access to global procurement.’’
In his remarks, Adesina explained that the partnership was important because it would help add value to what the country produced locally.
He noted that the country spent N1 billion said that the country spent one billion naira annually on the importation of fruit juice and concentrate, a situation he said was not good for the economy. He added that the country also spent a lot of money importing sugar.
“We have to look at other substitutes,” he said. “Cassava is a miracle crop and it can be transformed into so many things. It is a highly versatile crop. We can replace the 150 tonnes of citrus and juice concentrate that we import into this country through some of the potential from cassava.”
He said that the ministry was working with a company on two projects in Kwara and Kogi, to produce high citrus starch syrup and fruit juice concentrate from cassava.
According to him, the company has invested in 75,000-tonne plant and also on a 15,000 tonnes to produce juice sweetener.
The minister stressed that the federal government was committed to turning cassava into a tradeable commodity.
He further said that Flour Mills Nigeria Ltd. was also investing in sweetener and starch plants.
Adesina gave an assurance that the federal government would provide the needed support to efforts directed at import substitution.
He said that all areas where these citrus plants would be situated would have the presence of Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZ).